One morning years ago, my husband told me that he had a lump in his groin. My first thought was that he must have a hernia. But it wasn’t a hernia, it was an enlarged lymph node. After numerous tests and consultations, he was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Those are the facts of what happened. But that isn’t the story that I told myself. I made those facts mean that I would lose my husband and become a young widow. I’d be alone and have to raise two young children by myself. Fear became the soundtrack that ran in the background while I still went to work and did mundane things like groceries, laundry, and driving him to chemo.
This is what we do. We are really good at picturing the worst-case scenario and planning contingencies. It is part of how we have survived as a species. As an anesthesiologist, this skill is particularly well-developed in me because it’s part of how I care for my patients.
Now that I’m a coach, I understand that everything that happens to us is neutral. Until we have a thought about them. If I had known this then, I think the fear would still have been present. But I’d like to think that I would have given equal airtime to the story that he would survive and go into remission. Hope would have been present to temper the Fear.
At the time, my story that he would die didn’t feel like a story, it just felt like the truth. This is precisely where a coach can be helpful. A coach helps to show you the difference between the facts and your story about the facts. As a result, you can clearly see what your story is creating for you.
I’m delighted to report that my husband did indeed go into remission, and while he continues to have health-related challenges from time to time, he’s still very much a survivor.